The Ohio State women’s volleyball team (16-2, 5-1) is showing the Big Ten that it is a force to be reckoned with, grabbing wins its first two road games of its conference schedule this weekend — including another win over a ranked foe — to stretch its winning streak to five.
No. 9 OSU took a pair of victories in Illinois, topping Northwestern (11-6, 3-3) on Friday night in Evanston, before taking down No. 13 Illinois (11-6, 2-4) on Saturday in Champaign.
In Saturday’s win over the Fighting Illini, OSU got big contributions from across the board as it came away with a four-set victory (25-20, 24-26, 25-18, 27-25).
Senior outside hitter Elizabeth Campbell helped guide the Buckeyes with her ninth double-double of the year (18 kills and 13 digs) and added four block assists, giving her a team-leading 20 points.
Reigning co-Big Ten Player of the Week Audra Appold was close behind with 19.5 points on 17 kills and two blocks (one solo). The freshman outside hitter also had a career-high 19 digs for her second double-double on the season.
Junior middle blocker Taylor Sandbothe (10 kills, six blocks) and senior outside hitter Katie Mitchell (11 kills) also broke the double-digit point mark, while freshman setter Taylor Hughes notched a career-best 52 assists to go along with five kills and five blocks.
Junior libero Valeria León had 19 digs, and sophomore outside hitter Luisa Schirmer picked up 10. Mitchell had seven of her 11 kills in the first set, as OSU never trailed after taking an early 5-4 lead.
The second set saw Illinois lead the majority of the way. A late charge from the Buckeyes tied things at 24, but the Fighting Illini captured the final two points to tie the match at one.
OSU had seven of its 13 blocks for the game in the third set — including three each from Hughes and Sandbothe — as it came out firing to take a quick 5-0 lead that it would not surrender.
In what would prove to be the deciding fourth set, OSU found itself in a 9-3 hole, but clawed its way back at 14 and again at 24. The Buckeyes didn’t take their first lead until late but it came at the right time, as they came away with a 27-25 win to take the match.
The win over Illinois marked OSU’s sixth win over a top-25 opponent on the year and its third in Big Ten play.
Behind a proficient .356 attack percentage, OSU swept its first match of the weekend on Friday, topping Northwestern in three sets (25-19, 25-20, 25-18).
Appold kept her hot streak rolling, leading the Buckeyes with 19.5 points on 18 kills and two blocks (one solo), while fellow freshman Hughes did a little bit of everything, picking up 33 assists, three block assists, two aces and one kill. Sandbothe added 11.5 points on nine kills and three block assists.
The first set was hotly contested, with 14 ties and seven lead changes, but OSU was able to pull away late with a 9-1 run to take the early lead.
After going down early in the second set, the Buckeyes used a 5-0 run to take the lead, 10-8, and didn’t look back, powered by seven kills from Appold.
The freshman had seven more kills in the final set, in which OSU led the whole way after breaking a 2-2 stalemate early on.
The Buckeyes are next scheduled to return to the court next weekend when they host No. 12 Purdue on Friday at 7 p.m., followed by Indiana on Sunday at 1 p.m. in St. John Arena.